Russia: Disgraceful, Disgusting and Dishonest
by Dave Essel
In Russia, deeds hardly ever match words. Below you will find a particularly revolting case in point – small time on the scale of Russia, just one instance of the ubiquitous inhumanity to be found there. But this is how Russia really is: disgraceful, disgusting, and dishonest from top to bottom and through and through.
The Russian authorities are greatly exercised at the moment by Senator Benjamin Cardin’s excellent proposal to the U.S. State Department to deny permanently U.S. visas to over 60 Russian officials and others involved in a $230 million corruption exposed by a Moscow-based lawyer for Hermitage Capital, Sergei Magnitsky, his retaliatory arrest on false charges by the same officials he had accused and his subsequent torture and death in custody. Senator Cardin pointed out that “these officials remain unpunished and in a position of power.”
Many names of abusers of all sorts – in all sorts of cases – come to light. The article below provides 2 names, “judge” Turlanova and prosecutor Khomutovsky, who well deserve to be included on a Cardin list that would concern Russia as a whole and not just Magnitsky’s persecutors and murderers.
It would be wonderful if Russian officials at all levels should know that their disgraceful actions may pass unremarked or even rewarded in Russia but not without a negative trace in the US and, one would hope, in the cowardly EU.
There is a job here for a freedom-loving organisation to begin generating and maintaining a list of people in Russia who could and should be included in a general Cardin’s list of swine who should not be allowed out of the confines of their animal farm.
Law of the Jungle or Medvedev Amendments?
29 July 2010
by Olga Bobrova
Translated from the Russian by Dave Essel
Moscow City Court is to hear the appeal in the case of Oleg Roshchin and others currently imprisoned along with him. Roshchin’s case is the perfect case for tracking how the judicial system and law enforcement as a whole has understood the president’s ideas for humanising the way the law deals with persons accused of economic misdeeds.
Oleg Roshchin, the founder of a company called OOO Third Rome, was sentenced to 18 years strict régime prison camp in January this year. This was nearly the maximum sentence which the article under which he was tried provided for. Two “accomplices” were sentenced at the same time to 15 and 9 years’ camp.
What had these terrible people done? Here in brief is the essence of their crime:
OOO Third Rome began importing polystyrene into Russia in 2007. This material has a wide variety of uses from building industry to medicine. Third Rome found this until then unclaimed niche market for itself and earned good money from it – and also jealousy. The usual results ensued: Third Rome was subjected to checks, in particular by Dept. 12 of UBEP, the Directorate for Combating Economic Crime. The usual script was followed: searches, confiscations, arrests.
The arrested were then charged with breaches of Article 188 of the Criminal Code (“contraband”), with the traditional added spice of breaches of Article 174 – laundering of profits. The prosecution’s argument was that the company had declared the polystyrene on importation as “polymer”. That is not in fact a lie, since polystyrene is indeed a polymer. However, the import duty on polymers is lower than on actual polystyrene. The company had bent some words to its advantage.
And that is how Roshchin and company found themselves in the dock, accused of defrauding the state of 126 million roubles.
I do not wish here to go into detail as to whether a crime took place or not. What strikes me as the evident truth is that Roshchin was just a businessman trying to engage in business as best he could in a country such as ours. He did not kill anyone, rape anyone or torture anyone. It also strikes me that the court displayed deliberate and groundless savagery in its sentence. (Roshchin has three young children). One can only guess at the reason for this savagery.
I furthermore do not think that the prosecution made any efforts to establish truth in the matter. How else can one explain the mindboggling determination not to apply Article 194 – evasion of customs dues – and go for the article on contraband? Perhaps the prosecution preferred the article it chose because the maximum punishment provided for under Article 194 is 5 years while Article 188 allows for up to 12 years?
In the end Olog Roshchin, managing director, was sentenced to 18 years in total and Inna Babyzhina, bookkeeper, to 15. The customs clearance agent, Igor Kochetov, who was tried alongside them, got 5. The sentences were passed by Moscow’s Perovsky Court judge Olesya Turlanova.
Next it appeared that the gloom in this depressing case might be relieved. While the case was moving to appeal in the Moscow City Court, president Medvedev signed his amendments to the Criminal Code, changing some dispositions for articles on economic crimes, under which investigators and prosecutors previously had too free a hand to pressurise business.
The trio’s defence team intended to appeal the sentences on the basis of these amendments. But the prosecution was not about to be caught asleep at the wheel and independently instituted a review of the Third Rome case. Thus on 7 July, prosecutor Khomutovsky of the Perov Interdistrict Prosecutor’s Office, who had previously demanded a 22-year sentence for Roshchin, signed a request for a judicial review. Looking at Article 174 in the new light of “humanisation” (unlike before), he now considered that of the 511 breaches the accused had been found guilty of, 510 could be disregarded. The prosecutor was also now prepared to disregard most of the breaches held against the accused under Article 188. In this new light, the prosecutor now believed that the trio’s sentences should be reduced – Roshchin’s by 3 years, Babizhina’s by 3 years, and Kochetov’s by 1 year.
So that is how prosecutor Khomutovsky of the Perov Interdistrict Prosecutor’s Office has interpreted this new humanisation idea. We shall see on Monday how the Moscow City Court does.